Lloyd's Chairman Decries ?Litigation Culture'

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NU Online News Service, Sept. 16, 4:05 p.m.EDT?Speaking at Town Hall Los Angeles, Lord Peter Levene,chairman of Lloyd's, said the "litigation culture" and increasingbarriers to free trade cause serious harm to industries thatsupport economic and social progress.

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Lord Levene also announced the results of a joint Lloyd's/TownHall survey of Los Angeles business leaders, which showed that 95percent believe the cost of litigation is a drain on the economy,while 94 percent are concerned about the potential impact ofliability costs on their own business or industry.

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Addressing the Town Hall members, he noted that "the U.S. andthe U.K. have a common bond to see our intertwined economies dobetter. But barriers to trade, such as those that affect theinsurance industry, and actions that drain an economy, such asexcessive litigation, hold back growth and progress."

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Lord Levene added that tort reform was urgently needed to combatgrowing litigiousness in the U.S., which ultimately resulted inskyrocketing premiums for policyholders.

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"My point is that today's culture is a brake on enterprise andinnovation," he said. "The fear of being sued is making everyonemore and more cautious?to the detriment of everyone. This newculture does more than simply sap the will of the risk taker. Itcorrodes the economy."

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Lord Levene pointed out that at current levels, U.S. tort costsare equivalent to a 5 percent tax on wages. "At this rate ofincrease, by 2005 tort costs could equal $1,000 per citizen peryear."

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